I gathered the courage to call the man who sat in the car with my brother while they waited for the ambulance to arrive. The man was a fireman, and he was off duty, painting a house to earn extra money, when he saw the accident.
He jumped off of the ladder and rushed over to the car. He crawled inside the car and knocked out the windshield, because the driver was panicking and felt claustrophobic. The driver was my brother, Chris, and he died in the hospital about thirty minutes later from internal injuries. But while he waited for the ambulance, scared and struggling to breath, the fireman sat by him and comforted him. We couldn’t be there, but he could, and it means everything to me that Chris wasn’t alone during the last minutes of his life.
In honor of this, my mother takes a full Thanksgiving dinner to the local fire department each year to thank these courageous and thoughtful people. It took me over ten years to be able to speak to the man who knew the details of my brother’s final moments. I wasn’t ready to know for a long time, but I could thank him right away in a letter, and our family found a way to thank his profession for all of the sons and brothers they’ve saved, protected, and even mourned. It might not be perfect, but it makes us feel better. The firemen don’t mind a day off from cooking, either.
You could write a letter, donate your time or your expertise, help another family get through the holidays, post your coping ideas on a blog, do something crazy or silly, work on a project together, take a vacation, go for a goal you’ve been denying, ask friends to help you create a memory book… Find what works for you, and don’t apologize for it. You deserve to do something that makes you feel better.Tags: grief, hope
I can really relate to what you had to say in this article. My 19 yr.old son was in a car accident and a local lady (nurse) came upon it and she was with my son in the car until he could be put in the ambulance. I was so glad he wasn’t alone and it turned out this lady knew my son thru her son. He died of his injuries in surgery a few hours later. The firemen told me about her and I went to see her within a couple of weeks. I didn’t stay long maybe 5-10 min but she knew I was so thankful for her being with my son at this tragic time. I know it helped me very much and she thanked me for coming to her because she didn’t know how I would react if she came to me. I have read your book and it was also very helpful because I have a remaining son who is a couple of years younger and I appreciated what you had to say.
Scott, i just read the things you wrote about your brother, chris. my brother, also named scott died 6 months ago and it is still so hard. the article you wrote about the holidays helped me alot. it validated my roller coaster feelings. my brother was 46 and had a sudden heart attack. it was 24 hours before he was found dead alone in his garage. i’ve never experienced grief on this level. your writings give me hope for future refief. thank you!
Thank you for your kind comments.